More than a year after it first hit Japan, Line’s standalone ecommerce app has finally arrived in Taiwan.
Currently available on Android, Line Mart features the same interface as Line Mall, its analogous Japanese counterpart. Users can browse through an assortment of categories like clothing and electronics, to find an item they’re interested in. Buyers can “heart” an item they like and leave messages for sellers. Vendors can choose to receive payments through ATM transfer, credit cards (powered by Line Pay, Line’s payment platform), or cash. Deliveries can be handled through local logistics provider T-Cat or in person. All in all, Line Mart closely resembles your standard peer-to-peer shopping app.
On its official blog, Line adds that it has partnered with local retailers including ABC Mart, a popular shoe vendor, which will ramp up the app’s business-to-consumer catalog. The company also says that it will soon allow payments and pickup at convenience stores – a common practice for the island’s ecommerce industry.
The arrival of Line Mart in Taiwan completes the company’s early ecommerce plays in its three key markets – Taiwan, Thailand, and Japan.
Curiously, Line’s ecommerce apps are not directly integrated into its flagship messenger. At present, there’s no way to jump from the chat app to the shopping app, and users are even prohibited from sharing usernames across the two apps.
Peer-to-peer ecommerce is robust in Taiwan. PCHome’s Ruten and Yahoo’s Yahoo Auctions remain popular marketplaces where buyers, sellers, and small businesses congregate. Facebook and PTT, the island’s deathless BBS forum, are also routine destinations for online shopping.
While all of those properties have strong networks of buyers and sellers, they each lack a dedicated, high-quality mobile counterpart. In addition to Line, Singapore’s Carousell has hedged its bets on filling this void, alongside local startup Solda. It’s too early to say which of these three companies, if any, will win over Taiwan’s mobile shoppers. With its large domestic userbase, cultural cache, and seemingly bottomless advertising budget, Line is certainly in an advantageous position. But ownership of a chat network doesn’t necessarily guarantee ownership of an ecommerce network. Read more…